Kyle Edmund stuns John Isner to earn Novak Djokovic clash

World number 84 sees off American in four sets to set up tie with world number one

Kyle Edmund will face Novak Djokovic after he beat John Isner in four sets. Photograph: Getty

Kyle Edmund came of age at Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday night when, against most expectations except his own, he beat the American John Isner in four sets to earn a fourth-round tie in the US Open against the world No1 Novak Djokovic.

Over 2hr and 42min on the tournament’s second show court, the 22-year-old British player, ranked 84th in the world, beat the world No 21 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Earlier, Djokovic was gifted a path through to the next round after Mikhail Youzhny retired with a hamstring injury. This followed a walkover the Serb received after Jiri Vesely – who had beaten him in Monte Carlo – withdrew injured.

Isner beat Edmund in straight sets at Roland Garros in their only previous encounter and, as Edmund said later, he learned from that. He has only played Djokovic once, as well, losing in Miami, and he hopes that defeat will also inform his best efforts on Sunday.


“It’s been a great tournament so far,” Edmund said courtside in his understated way. “Maybe it wasn’t the result you guys wanted, but I want to thank everyone for supporting me. Playing John, your chances don’t come very often, so you’ve got to take them, get a racket on the ball, get the ball in court and hustle. I think I played well in the tie-break. I knew it was going to come out to one or two points.

“It’s going to be tough playing the world No1. He’s there rightfully so, very consistent at a high level. I’ll learn from what happened in Miami. The French Open helped me tonight, maybe it will be the same on Sunday.”

Edmund, nerves no doubt knocking about in his skull like pots and pans, double-faulted on his second set point but repaired the damage to go a set up just past the first half hour. He’d soaked up Isner’s bombs and returned them with interest: all in all, he was handling the pressure well.

But the American, a veteran of angst, refused to lie down. He got his serve going in the second and banged down seven aces, and Edmund could only score on six of 22 points received as Isner levelled after an hour and seven minutes of frantic, high-powered tennis.

If Isner was hitting higher spots on his serve – maxing out at 137mph, seven faster than the Yorkshireman – Edmund looked the more solid all-round on court and had his opponent in all sorts of trouble taking the third. He took both of the break points that came his way; Isner squandered all three.

Edmund had said earlier he was prepared for a five-setter if needed, but clearly he was straining to finish it in four – while Isner continued to play his unique brand of attritional tennis.

Edmund double-faulted twice but somehow held to stay ahead in the serving cycle, and Isner banged the net with his racket on the changeover. The older player’s legs – as tall as some small children – were beginning to let him down, although he was still doing sharp work at the net.

Isner held for 5-all, but Edmund, the most relaxed of characters, was not altogether pleased that he had to successfully challenge two poor calls on the American’s serve.

The evening patrons were well lubricated and passionate, adding to the fevered atmosphere, and they roared their appreciation of every Edmund error, every Isner success. When Isner disputed a call on Edmund’s serve, he had run out of challenges and threw his racket to the ground in anger. Edmund stayed cool. A 95mph ace on second serve down the middle set him up to hold, and Isner needed to do likewise to stay in the tournament.

He held to love with his 25th ace, and they went to the tie-break, where Edmund is 9-3 this year, Isner 26-27. They crossed at three points apiece, Isner planting another ace, his 27th, wide of Edmund’s backhand.

Edmund kissed the baseline for 6-3 and three match points. Isner’s first serve billowed the net, but he clung on with a cross-court forehand winner. A big Isner serve got him to 5-6, and Edmund served for the match. And he clinched it with a huge, expansive forehand of his own.

What a night it was, what a match, what a result.

(Guardian service)